pg.

14

Why Bad Ads Happen to Good Causes
and how to ensure they won ’ t happen to yours.

A guide for creating more effective public interest print advertising featuring new data from an unprecedented 10-year study by RoperASW.
Written by

Andy Goodman
Designed & Published by

Cause Communications

Andy Goodman, Author R. Christine Hershey, President, Cause Communications Lisa Joss, Design Director, Cause Communications Julia Kopischke, Production Manager, Cause Communications Philip Sawyer, Senior Vice President, RoperASW (author, Starch study) Jan Fambro, Project Research Director Bud Pollak, Project Editor

Andy Goodman is an independent communications consultant who helps nonprofits, foundations and progressive businesses reach more people more effectively. Based in Los Angeles, California, he also publishes a monthly newsletter, free-range thinking , which profiles best practices, success stories and resources in the field of public interest communications. For more information, visit www.agoodmanonline.com.
TM

Cause Communications is a 501c3 nonprofit created by Hershey Associates, a design and marketing consulting firm based in Santa Monica, California. Cause Communications was launched to work as a strategic marketing partner with nonprofit clients, enabling them to market their organizations and campaigns more effectively. For more information, visit www.causecommunications.org.
Copyright © 2002 by Andy Goodman and Cause Communications. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher.

This book was made possible through the support of:
The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation The David and Lucile Packard Foundation The Pew Charitable Trusts The Surdna Foundation

Why Bad Ads Happen to Good Causes
and how to ensure they won ’ t happen to yours.

A guide for creating more effective public interest print advertising featuring new data from an unprecedented 10-year study by RoperASW.
Written by

Andy Goodman
Designed & Published by

Cause Communications

it’s time to zag.Table Of Contents Acknowledgements …………………………………………………… 1 Introduction ………………………………………………………. 6.. 18 1. Good Causes. 7. 53 • Use It or Lose It • Nobody Said it Was Going to Be Easy Good Books ……………………………………………………… . measure after. When everyone zigs.. and Methodology • Specifications for the Public Interest Study • Common Problems • Conclusions The Print Ad Principles …………………………………………. Great Ads …………………………………………. History. 3. 55 . If you want people to read your text. Make an emotional connection before attempting to convey information. Capture the reader’s attention like a stop sign and direct it like a road map. make it readable. 4. Use pictures to attract and convince. Write headlines that offer a reason to read more. 6 • Purpose.. 5. 2 • The Wake-Up Call • A Clearer Picture • The Good News The Starch Readership Study of Public Interest Print Advertising (1990-2000) …………………………………………. 2. Test before.

and who unflinchingly assumed the task of designing a book that instructs readers to think critically about design. 1 Acknowledgements This book would not have been possible without the support of the following individuals and organizations: • Josh Reichert and Steve Kallick of The Pew Charitable Trusts.pg. • The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. and Vince Stehle for their enthusiasm and guidance throughout the research. author of the Starch study. Ruth Norris and Will Novy Hildesley. Will Novy Hildesley. who provided the initial funding to commission the Starch Readership Study. along with the advertising agency representatives who participated in the creation of those ads. the “data backbone” of this book. • Carolyn Ramsay. • Bud Pollak. • Philip Sawyer of RoperASW. I am deeply indebted to all the individuals who generously contributed their time and wisdom in the interviews that complemented the RoperASW research. Anita Goodman. Lastly.) We couldn’t have told the whole story without you. who did a superlative job editing this book (even if he did return the first draft with “See Me” scrawled across the front page in red ink). The Pew Charitable Trusts. for her input as well. without whom I would not be possible. and distribution processes. David Morse. • Chris Hershey. • The reviewers who patiently plodded through early drafts: Bruce Trachtenberg. • Jan Fambro. researcher extraordinaire. Susan Alexander. President of the Ad Council. Amy Swygert. writing. who did a superlative job enduring me as I nursed this project along over the last year and a half. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. public affairs. (If you’re one of those people. Lisa Joss. Amanda Akel. and advertising directors at the nonprofits whose ads are profiled in this book. Special thanks to Peggy Conlon. David Morse. and. Jonathan Polansky. of course. who generously shared his considerable knowledge of print advertising (along with his very dry sense of humor). which have partnered with me and Cause Communications to publish and distribute this guide. Philip Sawyer and Kristen Wolf. Bari George. and The Surdna Foundation. Jeffrey Sussman. Frank Karel. Jo Lynn Dorrance. Sharon Gallagher. Ruth Norris. my mother. you’ll find your acknowledgement within the text that follows. Sharon Gallagher and Cindy Jobbins. Scott Leslie. Jeffrey Boal. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation. a former high school English department chairman. Special thanks to Michael Bailin and Bruce Trachtenberg. my wife. and Julia Kopischke – the design and production team at Cause Communications – who have been my partners in this project since its inception. Andy Goodman . who tracked down the myriad communications. Cindy Jobbins. John Walker. Vince Stehle.

As RoperASW researchers had been interviewing magazine and newspaper readers over the years. I called RoperASW’s headquarters in New York and asked if they had ever conducted a readership study of nonprofit advertising. the ads performed poorly in terms of capturing the readers’ attention. appropriately. This sample included placements by The American Cancer Society. Rolling Stone. On the morning of October 31. Those responses were tabulated and deposited in the company’s database. they routinely captured comments on hundreds of public interest ads. Philip Sawyer. With funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts. told theTimes. but no organization had ever asked RoperASW to retrieve and analyze them. (A full list of advertisers and publications is included in the next section. 2 Introduction The Wake-Up Call The story behind this book begins on Halloween.” the report’s author.pg. layouts that give the eye no clue where to begin. American Red Cross. American Heart Association. The readership scores for the dot-com ads were dismal. Save the Children. Fortune. As a communications consultant to nonprofits and foundations. Much of what I see also appears to ignore the basics: headlines that ramble on forever. the results are sobering at the very least. Planned Parenthood. Essence. drawing them into the ad. Cosmopolitan.” . no public interest organization had ever commissioned such a study – but the data to perform a study was there. 2000. I commissioned a study of approximately two hundred public interest print ads that had been published between 1990 and 2000. is quite simple: people cannot be influenced by ads they don’t read. To date. a little scary.“What’s Wrong with Dot-Com Ads?” It described a newly released study by Roper Starch Worldwide (now RoperASW) that measured the ability of these ads to capture and hold the attention of magazine and newspaper readers. The answer was no. Reader’s Digest.” the report concluded. according to RoperASW. World Wildlife Fund and dozens of other prominent national organizations. I spotted an article in The New York Times entitled. “A lot of advertisers on the Internet are just not paying attention to the basics.“Relatively rare is the ad for a nonprofit organization that earns high readership scores. The ads appeared in large circulation publications including Business Week. and leaving a strong impression in their minds. This quote instantly struck a chord with me. With few exceptions.“and quite common are those that rank among the lowest ads in a given issue of a publication we have studied. Like the dot-com ads. and while “scary” may verge on hyperbole. I pay particularly close attention to public interest advertising. and it is.) The Starch study was completed in June 2001. reams of dense text. I wondered if my observations were just the tip of the iceberg. The reason for measuring these particular attributes. most of the public interest ads were stunningly weak on design basics. and Sports Illustrated.

why did the agency deliver such an ineffective piece?) In short. was confirmed: major league nonprofits advertising in major league publications were getting distinctly minor league results. Starch’s methodology (to be described in greater detail shortly) is designed to provide a strong indicator of performance. I wanted to learn how the organization got stuck with such a poorly performing ad. If those responses had been tracked. I use the qualifier “apparently” because a Starch readership study is not a definitive analysis of an ad’s efficacy. nor is it intended to be. Consequently.” –George Orwell . apparently. however. they would have qualitative data of their own to compare with Starch’s scores. If their data confirmed Starch’s findings. or other mechanisms that offer direct measurements of reader response. (Was it designed in-house? Did an agency create it. I began to view the Starch study as a wake-up call rather than the last word in this story. Intrigued (and a bit depressed) by its conclusions. Advertising is… “It is essentially a form of education.” –Franklin Delano Roosevelt “The rattling of a stick in a swill bucket. These scores can then be viewed as an indicator of poor response among a wider audience. the ad earns low scores. it’s reasonable to assume – in the absence of other data – they didn’t act on it either. I suspected additional data might. I started contacting the organizations included in the study to see exactly how much they knew about their ads’ performance. In addition. and it seemed likely that some (if not all) of the organizations with ads in the study would have done the same. more data could be added to the picture. and if so. coupons. be available. but I still wasn’t certain why. After all. Many nonprofits I advise use focus groups to test ads before they run. if most people didn’t notice an ad or spend much time with it. I could see that bad ads were happening to good causes. Given the size and reputations of the nonprofits represented in the sample. Instead. 3 My hunch. in fact. several of the ads in the study included web addresses. toll-free numbers. If so. If they possessed data that contradicted the Starch scores. I wanted to see it and to understand how the ad had defied Starch’s predictions. If a majority of readers tell Starch interviewers that they didn’t recall seeing a certain ad or only scanned portions of it.pg. and common sense would suggest they’re reliable indicators.

I consulted several highly regarded books on both advertising in general and print advertising in particular to deepen my understanding of the field. and even in that considerable time span my research director. While I will be the first to admit that a couple of hundred ads. I was also able to interview advertising agency representatives who were involved in the creation of tested ads. The Copywriter’s Bible. most nonprofits wanted to be helpful. Jan Fambro. and my personal favorite (at least in terms of its title). and I could not track down data for every ad. Hey. Planned Parenthood. and several other national organizations with extensive experience in print advertising. and a closer look at the Starch scores was a clearer picture of the state of public interest print advertising over the last decade. Twenty Ads That Shook the World. a few months of interviews. and a handful of books do not comprise the most scientific analysis possible. Turnover of key personnel was another problem: the data we sought may have existed.cont’d A Clearer Picture In August 2001. Red Cross. It’s also worth noting that we encountered a surprising amount of apathy as we requested interviews. but some were simply unable to locate records for ads that had appeared as many as ten years ago. I remain confident in concluding that a wake-up call is timely. information design (The Social Life of Information). . I began interviewing representatives of nonprofits and advertising agencies with ads in the study. but the person who knew how to find it was long gone. What emerged from the interviews. additional research revealed that the news for some of the ads was not quite as bad as Starch predicted. and the ever increasing challenge of capturing attention (The Attention Economy). but too many nonprofit organizations are still publishing ads with designs that simply do not enhance readership. I managed to conduct very fruitful interviews with representatives of the American Cancer Society. World Wildlife Fund. numerous phone calls and e-mails to several targeted organizations were simply not returned. 4 Introduction .pg. and who brought additional insights to the unique challenges of public interest advertising. (See Good Books for a full bibliography. background reading. Squeeze This. As you’re about to see. While conducting these interviews. Despite these hurdles. It also included books that are tangentially related to advertising but have worthwhile chapters on such related topics as the power of photographs (Visual Persuasion). This new round of research took six months to complete. Whipple. When informed about the Starch study and plans for this book. Save the Children.) This list included industry classics such as Ogilvy on Advertising. Even though Jan and I emphasized that we were offering an opportunity to develop a more complete picture of an ad’s performance.

where I wrote for the network sitcoms “Dinosaurs” (ABC) and “The Nanny” (CBS). thankfully. I’ve encountered that attitude throughout my careers in advertising. All I do is report how consumers react to different stimuli. and the readership study I commissioned applies them directly to public interest advertising. but I know that whether you’re writing an episode of “The Simpsons.’ A hint. as evidenced by the oft repeated quote attributed to John Wanamaker. more people will read it than if you set it in white type on a black background. I may say to an art director. Of course. you’ll hear and see these principles referred to again and again.S.” “rules. The best writers I worked with bent and broke the rules from time to time. Eight decades of Starch research have identified these principles. If you want to create print ads that your target audience will be inclined to read. or designing an ad to save the whales. As T.” Nevertheless. if you talk to people in the field (at both nonprofits and ad agencies) and read the literature of advertising.pg. And the question “What makes an ad work?” has always been an elusive one. and most recently television. Eliot once advised. there are design principles to guide you. so there is a certain amount of luck and magic in creating something that gets everyone buzzing. there are some things we have figured out. In his book. an ad’s appeal is based on the shifting sands of public taste. perhaps.” painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.“This is how you do it. David Ogilvy writes.” I’m not particularly fond of rules either. radio. How can you ensure this won’t happen to you? Read on. Ogilvy on Advertising.k. Why do bad ads happen to good causes? The evidence that I’ve been able to gather suggests one answer: the ads’ creators violated so many basic design principles that poor reader response was almost inevitable. I hate rules. but scarcely a rule. as well as help you evaluate ads that are presented to you by an agency. .’ Nothing could be further from the truth.” The same can be said for advertising.” or other hard-andfast strictures that imply. you need to understand the principles of your craft.“Half my advertising dollars are wasted – I just can’t figure out which half.“It is not wise to violate the rules until you know how to observe them. you might also encounter resistance to any notion of “principles.” That comes with the territory wherever creativity is a major part of the job. Moreover. Keep Reading) Which brings us to the purpose of this book and. I learned that all the creativity in the world wouldn’t help you if you didn’t understand the essential structure of the 22-minute sitcom. but they did so knowingly. ‘Research suggests that if you set the copy in black type on a white background. some good news for every public interest advertiser who reads it. In my tenure as a story editor and producer.a. “I am sometimes attacked for imposing ‘rules. 5 The Good News (a. Like a TV show. The third section of this book identifies principles of print advertising that can help your organization design more readable ads on its own.

and interview locations are assigned across the U. according to RoperASW. Once all the interviews for a given publication have been completed. (The Noted score measures the “stopping power” of the ad. In a simple analogy. and doesn’t by itself catalyze any action. ask the interview subject several questions: Do you recall seeing this ad? Do you remember the name of the advertiser? How much of the ad did you read? A minimum of one hundred interviews is conducted for each ad.000 ads in more than 400 different magazines and newspapers each year. (The Read Most score measures reader involvement and tends to correlate positively with response to the “ask” within the ad. as each ad appears.pg. the responses for each ad are tabulated and translated into three scores: Noted: Percentage of readers who remembered having seen the ad in the selected issue.S.“Before an ad can do anything. Starch studies have been conducted since 1923 under the guiding principle (originally articulated by Dr. Daniel Starch. Attention is targeted and specific.”) Percentage of readers who read half or more of the written material in the ad.”Today. History and Methodology A Starch readership study is designed to measure what has been seen and read in a specific issue of a publication.) Associated: Read Most: . the Starch division measures over 25. it must first be seen and read. The Attention Economy The research process for a readership study begins with a face-to-face interview. A Starch researcher will page through a selected publication such as Fortune or TV Guide and.” –Thomas Davenport & John Beck. Not Just Awareness “You can throw oodles of information into a person’s awareness. The problem is that everybody is doing it. to roughly parallel the publication’s distribution.) Percentage of readers who recalled the name of the advertiser or campaign. Interviews are conducted within 1-3 weeks of the issue’s release so the ads will be relatively fresh in the reader’s memory. (The Associated score measures “branding. 6 The Starch Readership Study of Public Interest Print Advertising. Awareness is vague. general information. 1990-2000 Purpose. It gets people moving. the company’s founder). awareness is the target and attention is the bull’s-eye. Attention.

. 28% Read Most.pg. the American Cancer Society did substantially better: +18% Noted. and 15% above average in compelling them to read most of the text. At this point. In this narrower competition against other “Organization Ads” in the same magazine. Starch concluded that this ad effectively captured its audience and held them long enough to deliver its message. 52% Associated. The Adnorm Index scores show how an ad performed compared only to the other ads within its category. +24% Associated. you see the ad’s three “raw” scores. 100 becomes the average score. Issue Index scores for the American Cancer Society ad show that it performed 3% above average in attracting readers’ attention. Based on this last set of numbers alone. a question is probably forming in your mind: are these good scores? Without some context it’s impossible to say. In the table of scores (above). full-page ads week in and week out. In this “apples-tooranges” comparison. and other deep-pocketed advertisers who can place expensive. 7 Scores (%) raw issue index adnorm index Noted Associated Read Most 56 103 118 52 110 124 28 115 126 This full-page ad was part of a multimedia campaign conducted by the American Cancer Society between March and August 2000. The Issue Index scores show how an ad performed compared to all other ads within the same edition of the magazine or newspaper. 10% above average establishing the organization’s name in their minds. This “apples-to-apples” comparison is more precise because nonprofits (like many of their commercial counterparts) face an uphill battle when forced to compete for attention with automobile companies. fast food chains. the results of one hundred (or more) interviews: 56% Noted. so results above 100 indicate a better-than-average performance. and that’s why Starch calculates two additional sets of scores for each ad. +26% Read Most.

a. the Starch Senior Vice President who would author the study. 1990-2000 . The Noted. I refined the sample to 195 ad placements made by advocacy organizations working across many issues – the “good causes” of this book’s title. we narrowed the field by category. Within this time span. but since Leading National Advertisers (the body which determines advertising categories) did not create one as narrow as “public interest” or “nonprofit. 8 The Starch Readership Study of Public Interest Print Advertising.pg. Associated.” This search yielded 811 placements but included organizations and associations such as America’s Pharmaceutical Companies. we will focus exclusively on the Adnorm Index scores.” we were forced to search the broader category of “Organization Advertising. and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.cont’d Specifications for the Public Interest Study All ads used in this study were culled from Starch’s print advertising database – the world’s largest – and we began our search by focusing on the years 1990-2000. . Knights of Columbus. and Read Most scores for each ad will be automatically translated into pluses and minuses so its performance against other ads in its category is immediately apparent.) How To Read Scores in This Book: as we evaluate the performance of each tested ad from this point on. Working with Philip Sawyer. Adnorm Scores Noted Associated Read Most +47 +40 n. (And please note: I am using this term in a strictly colloquial sense and am not implying a judgment on the relative “goodness” of any of these organizations.

pg. for Missing & POWs Affairs The Nature Conservancy The Trust for Public Land UJA Federation of New York Until There’s a Cure Foundation Wildlife Conservation Society World Wildlife Fund The placements were made in the following national publications: Audubon Better Homes and Gardens Bon Appetit Business Week Cosmopolitan Ebony Entertainment Weekly Esquire Essence Family Circle Forbes Fortune Glamour Good Housekeeping Home Magazine Ladies Home Journal McCall’s Motor Trend Newsweek Parade Reader’s Digest Rolling Stone Self Seventeen Sports Afield Sports Illustrated Sunset Time TV Guide U. Inc. News & World Report Vogue Woman’s Day For the study. Inc. one of your ads may have been captured in this study. inquiries may be directed to Andy Goodman via email at andy@agoodmanonline. Starch does not release the scores for all ads in a given study. Comm. 9 These 195 placements were made by the following nonprofit organizations: Alzheimer’s Association American Cancer Society American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science American Heart Association American Indian College Fund American Red Cross Boys & Girls Clubs of America Cease Fire.S. For more information. If an organization with which you are affiliated is included in the list above. A Note on Starch Policy: when conducting readership studies. . are featured in the next two sections of this book. along with their readership scores.) Save the Children Federation Shelby Heart Fund Sierra Club The Chancellor’s Literacy Campaign The National Arbor Day Foundation The Nat’l. Philip Sawyer analyzed the data from all 195 ad placements. Charitable Gift Fund Organization Children International Choice USA Organization Christian Children’s Fund CJ Foundation for SIDS Coalition for America’s Children Federation for American Immigration Reform Foster Parents Plan Free TV for Straight Talk Coalition Hepatitis Foundation International Jackie Robinson Foundation John Templeton Foundation Leukemia Society of America Making Strides Against Breast Cancer National Coalition Against Domestic Violence National Mental Health Association National Multiple Sclerosis Society Negative Population Growth Partnership for a Drug-Free America Pew Center on Global Climate Change Planned Parenthood Federation of America Public Media Center Quail Unlimited Recycle America (Waste Management. but the publishers of this report may not have access to your ad’s specific scores.com. and his report highlights 26 ads that were most representative of the entire sample. Those ads.

” but this is the kind of print advertising that most readers will flip past for several reasons: • By placing the headline (“After I picked up hepatitis A…”) over the photograph of the palm trees.. a single tone. The low scores garnered by this ad are predictable based on all the design characteristics that run contrary to well-documented reader tendencies. 10 The Starch Readership Study of Public Interest Print Advertising. and they are also less attracted to pictures where parts of the model are not shown.cont’d Common Problems The following ads illustrate some of the design problems that were most common in the study: American Liver Foundation “Hepatitis A” (May 1999) This ad is fairly representative of many ads in the study.pg.e. At first glance the design may appear professional and relatively “clean. • Starch data also indicate that after looking at a photo. the designers have made the headline more difficult to read while lessening the visual power of the photograph. • The photo of the model is monochromatic (i. most readers tend to look down. This tendency suggests that most readers who stay with this ad will see the woman’s face and then proceed to the subhead (orange text) and the body copy beneath it – entirely missing the quotation over the palm trees. 1990-2000 . Adnorm Scores Noted Associated Read Most -34 -33 -22 . as opposed to color or black & white) and parts of her head are cut off by the close-up angle. Starch data compiled from thousands of other ads show that readers find monochromatic pictures the least attractive to the eye.

pg. this is predictable given certain design principles: • First. Noted Associated Read Most Adnorm Scores -15 -15 -64 . printing text over a photograph is usually a dicey proposition. • Second.smiling face dominates the ad. 11 National Rifle Association “I’m the NRA” ( June 1998) The recognizable face of a celebrity can add drawing power to an advertisement. • Third. in this case. the tendency after seeing a photograph or other illustration is to look down (most likely. Largent’s handsome. and again. to the boy holding the rifle). and the NRA was probably counting on this when they cast Steve Largent – former quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks – in the starring role in an ad placed in a male-oriented magazine. which strongly competes for the reader’s attention. but where did you look next? The extremely low Read Most score indicates that most readers did not look at the text in the upper right hand corner of the ad. the final paragraph of the text (and the campaign’s slogan. especially in this example where the photo provides a mottled background that makes the light text difficult to read. while readers tend to scan pages from left to right. and it is highly likely that this is the first place you (and most readers) looked. in fact) is printed over the rifle.

Save the Children was able to count the number of sponsors generated by the ad. babies are one of the most powerful “eye magnets” available. hunger.. and they will look for visual clues along these lines. Unfortunately for Save the Children.cont’d Save the Children “For some children. Readers instinctively want to know that the baby is safe. Save the Children’s Advertising Manager (who was not involved in the creation of this ad). 12 The Starch Readership Study of Public Interest Print Advertising. Starch data confirm this. the close-up of the baby’s feet in this ad may have disturbed readers. happy. disease.” Akel added.“We found in television advertising that showing children and the environment they live in is the most effective way to portray the picture.” Adnorm Scores Noted Associated Read Most -18 -24 -46 . so I’m not surprised. but the company’s research also shows that the way the baby is depicted is critically important.. 1990-2000 . particularly if it reminded them of children who were innocent victims of war.” ( June 1998) Among subjects for a photograph in an advertisement.“Showing the baby’s feet is not telling much of a story. and well cared-for.pg. and Save the Children’s records confirm this. Because of the direct response mechanisms contained within the ad. or crime. the ad achieved only 8% of its goal.cont’d Common Problems . According to Amanda Akel. The low Read Most score for this ad (46% below average within its category) suggests that this ad turned away many potential readers.

This headline is physically split in two by the photograph. • A photograph is another tool for grabbing attention (many would say it’s the best). 13 UJA Federation of New York “The most educated investment... Adnorm Scores Noted Associated Read Most -11 -21 -15 .pg.” ( June 1998) This full-page ad for the UJA-Federation is also swimming upstream against time-tested tendencies of newspaper and magazine readers: • An ad’s headline is often its best chance to grab a reader’s attention. and even in its entirety it lacks a strong call to action or an element of intrigue. but they have to be intrigued by the headline. • People will read long copy (arbitrarily defined by Starch as 100 words or more). and it probably failed to strike an emotional chord in most readers. but the meaning of this picture is ambiguous. or both – and the below average Read Most scores indicate that most people were not sufficiently interested. photo.

pg.

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The Starch Readership Study of Public Interest Print Advertising, 1990-2000 - cont’d

Common Problems - cont’d
American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science (ACWIS)
“The Idea Market” (May 1996)
“The Idea Market” was one of six ads designed to raise the profile (within the U.S.) of the Israel-based Weizmann Institute of Science, as well as to reinforce a positive image of the Institute among current supporters. The print-only campaign was also deployed to promote the value of scientific research in general. The ads were selectively placed in op-ed pages or other print environments where long text was likely to be read. Unfortunately, this ad recorded low readership scores across the board, including the lowest Read Most score (69% below average) in the entire study. Placing the headline below the text is an unconventional approach, but the headline’s size compensates for its placement, and, as with most headlines, it’s probably the place where you begin reading the ad. The fact that the headline has no call to action, offers no benefit, and does nothing to intrigue you suggests that many readers stopped right there. If they did stay with the ad, however, they faced a cloud (literally) of text that is extremely difficult to read. Starch data show that unjustified left margins predictably generate lower readership scores, and that trend clearly continued here. “The organization felt this was a clever concept,” said Jeff Sussman, Vice President of Marketing,Communications and Public Affairs (who was not with ACWIS when the ads were created), “but in advertising, I think you need to do what the reader needs most, even if you have to pass on a great concept.”

Adnorm Scores

Noted

Associated

Read Most

-52

-53

-69

pg.

15

Waste Management, Inc.
“Recycle America” (November 1990)
Thanks to incorrect categorizing, this ad by Waste Management (a commercial entity) was filed under “Organization Advertising,” but the insights gained from the scores of this ad are worth including. As you looked at this ad, it’s very likely that you saw the headline (“Practical Office Paper Recycling Is Here”), glanced down to the woman, followed her extended arm to the piece of paper in her right hand, and then noticed the green and white Recycle America logo on the plastic receptacle. If you failed to return to the top of the page to read the text, you’re like most of the people Starch interviewed about this ad. You saw it, you noticed the logo, and you stopped reading right there. The Adnorm Scores for this ad tell the story of poorly conceived “flow.” This design was successful in grabbing people’s attention (27% above average) and leading them to the Recycle America logo (39% above average), but it failed to bring people into the text, which carried important information about starting a recycling program at your company (40% below average). Starch data show that when readers arrive at the bottom of a page, they have a strong tendency to turn the page, and that is probably what sabotaged a good start here.

Adnorm Scores

Noted
+

Associated
+

Read Most

27

39

-40

pg.

16

The Starch Readership Study of Public Interest Print Advertising, 1990-2000 - cont’d

Common Problems - cont’d
American Heart Association
“Heart Guide” (April 1990)
This ad does a number of things right but undercuts its performance with one fundamental design error. On the plus side, it begins by attracting the eye with a large, colorful, and interesting image: supermarket bags arranged into the shape of a heart. From here, the eye tracks down to a headline (“In one year, you’ll make 8,000 decisions…”) that provides an interesting fact and a clear benefit for the reader. And from there, the eye naturally moves to the text which, presumably, will spell out this benefit. But this is where the ad’s designer made a choice that runs contrary to well-documented reader tendencies. By dividing the text into three boxes, the designer has essentially built walls to stop the reader’s eyes, and while sentences continue through these “walls,” readers will frequently stop reading when they encounter a solid line. This design technique, known as “segmenting,” discourages readership according to Starch data. The Adnorm Scores reflect these pluses along with one, strong minus: the ad did a solid job of attracting attention and establishing the American Heart Association’s name, but it performed well below average in pulling readers through the text. Segmenting is very likely the reason.

Adnorm Scores

Noted
+

Associated
+

Read Most

21

19

-23

“What can make ads work for a nonprofit organization. The performance of these ads. 17 Conclusions Based on his analysis of the data from 195 ad placements spanning 1990-2000 and a closer analysis of 26 ads. As you will see in the next section.“is that few. Philip Sawyer offered four conclusions in his report: 1. Following this reasoning.“is not a major overhaul in approach. and Sawyer observed many of these unsuccessful practices in the public interest sample.” 3. would have to qualify as a missed opportunity. This led Sawyer to an important conclusion about the category he was studying:“There is no reason to believe that nonprofit organizations are inherently handicapped because readers are not naturally predisposed to such ads. Design elements that work against reader tendencies are the primary cause of poor performance. and the company’s data has identified design principles which are proven to enhance readership. increasing the odds of reaching the targeted audience.” Starch maintains that the most prudent approach is to employ design techniques that are most likely to attract as many readers as possible. but simply more attention being paid to the fundamentals of advertising – basic blocking and tackling.” he concluded. ads are harmed if they are widely and wildly popular. one could conclude that low Starch readership scores would not be a fair measure of performance.“Our response. was disappointing at best. For more than eight decades.pg. however.“Relatively rare is the ad for a nonprofit organization that earns high readership scores. The targeting of a narrow audience is not a legitimate excuse. However. it was large enough for Sawyer to believe that he was looking at a representative batch of ads from nonprofits and foundations with the capacity to advertise in national publications. consequently.” 4. the company has also identified a number of techniques that are proven to discourage readership. Starch has been studying reader tendencies.“and quite common are those that rank among the lowest ads in a given issue of a publication we have studied.” 2. Starch has conducted many studies that scrutinize the advertising of an entire sector. With few exceptions. A public interest organization may argue that its issue appeals to a narrow audience and that its advertising. If the nonprofit organization ad gets a positive response from someone who is unlikely to support the organization. The exceptions prove. the ads performed poorly. . While the size of this particular sample (approximately 200 ads) is small by Starch standards. that you can’t blame the category.” according to Sawyer. will have limited appeal. and as recently as October 2000 Sawyer had authored just such a study of Internet advertising (as noted in the Introduction). if any. but who is put off by a weak creative execution. failing to reach someone who might be an enthusiastic contributor or member. Conversely. Enough nonprofit ads effectively capture attention to tell us that there is no bias against such ads. he concluded.” he reported. there are a few ads which recorded high readership scores. the organization will not suffer from that interest.

We go through fashions: borders. 7. Testing simply gives rise to general conclusions – it indicates what is most likely to work. 4.” So. Write headlines that offer a reason to read more. make it readable. it’s time to zag. I don’t see why they should change because it’s about human behavior and reaction.pg. Capture the reader’s attention like a stop sign and direct it like a road map. 6. here’s to being “more right” the next time around: The Print Ad Principles 1. colored type or whatever. Test before. Grace & Rothschild (as quoted in Cutting Edge Advertising) With Abbott’s philosophy in mind. 18 The Print Ad Principles “I think print advertising changes superficially. If heeded…the principles stemming from generalities may result in techniques and approaches that will be more right than wrong. Make an emotional connection before attempting to convey information. When everyone zigs. I offer the following seven principles to guide you in the creation (or evaluation) of print ads promoting your cause. typography. but additional research (interviewing current practitioners and culling from the literature of the field) has helped me refine them and add noteworthy exceptions. . Techniques change. 3. but I don’t think the enduring principles of good communications will change that much. As Phil Burton and Scott Purvis wrote in Which Ad Pulled Best? “…no single formula works successfully all the time in creating advertisements. 2. Use pictures to attract and convince. I offer the caution that these guidelines are not absolutes. These principles are based primarily on Starch data.” –David Abbott. If you want people to read your text. Again. measure after. 5.

Print Ad Principle # 1 Capture the reader’s attention like a stop sign and direct it like a road map. .

” commanding attention. This is the milieu in which your next ad will be read.“Unless there is a clear payoff for his efforts. By my watch. The Advertising Council Keep It Simple. “The average person worth cultivating has too much to read. All of the elements should work together to grab the reader’s eyes and lead them from point to point until an entire story is told.” Philip Sawyer wrote in his report. he will just keep moving along to the next article or ad. or does it say “Detour.” So when you start evaluating your next ad. it’s about two seconds per page.” Years of readership studies – including their recent analysis of public interest advertising – have brought RoperASW to the same conclusion. “Do not force the American magazine reader to spend any extra effort to understand or read an advertisement.pg. Luke Sullivan of the ad agency Fallon Worldwide offers the current take on an old problem:“Go to the airport and observe somebody reading a magazine. Before you begin analyzing the individual elements of a given ad. take a moment to see the ad as a reader would when viewing it for the first time – in its totality.” suggesting there’s a problem that you’re better off steering around? .” Hardly a surprising assessment…until you consider that Hopkins made it in 1923. “People are hurried. You don’t have to imagine what he’d say today. Resist Temptation! “Resist the temptation to dump everything you ever wanted anybody to know about your organization into one ad. consider it first in its totality and try to see it as the reader who is idly flipping pages.” –Peggy Conlon. Good advertising boils down the message to a single proposition. a single call to action. Ask yourself: does the ad say “Stop. 19 Principle #1 Capture the reader’s attention like a stop sign and direct it like a road map. They skip three-fourths of the reading matter which they pay to get. In The Copywriter’s Bible.” wrote Claude Hopkins in Scientific Advertising. To succeed. an ad has to be as simple as a stop sign.

This is the ad’s focal point. third.” The converse is.cont’d Principle #1 . Grace & Rothschild (as quoted in Which Ad Pulled Best?) When readers look at your ad.” An ad that smoothly takes the reader from one element to the next is said to have good “flow. but if the illustration dominates the page. placing the next most important element (typically the headline) below the illustration takes advantage of this tendency. make sure that it also functions as a road map. • Ads that have been neatly divided into smaller segments set off with borders generally do not earn very high Noted scores in readership studies. they are inclined to move off the page. the starting line. There has to be a point on every page where the art director and the writer want you to start.” Sawyer writes. to use the industry jargon. If the ad is mostly white space.“The eye is a holistic organ.” As you evaluate your next ad. they should have no doubt where to begin. the place it goes second. as opposed to tracking left or upwards to the top. so if the illustration is intended as your focal point. Once readers have absorbed the images and information on the right side of a page.“it yearns to see clearly and without impediment. Now they must be guided through the ad to ensure that your entire case is made. Starch research has revealed definite trends in how readers’ eyes flow across a page: • Americans read across a page from left to right. Your ad’s work is not done once the readers have found the focal point.” –Roy Grace. your readers are most likely to begin there. Provide a clear path for the eye to follow from one element to another. • Most readers will look down after viewing an illustration. 20 The Print Ad Principles .“a mess. a tiny line of copy at the center will grab the eye. your ad will probably be as successful as the lawyer who stumbles on his way to the jury box.cont’d Have an unmistakable focal point. It is simply this: your ad must have one element that is assigned the task of grabbing attention. and so on. Look Here First “There must be a beginning to every ad. . There has to be a place my eye goes first.pg. the opening speech in your case to the jury of readers. clearly guiding the reader to all the key elements. Headlines are a traditional starting point. If you look at your ad and cannot instantly identify its focal point. The point to remember here is not about relative size or the element you use to grab attention.

. the eye moves to the text on the tag. and the tagged handgun provides a clear and powerful focal point. Adnorm Scores Noted + Associated + Read Most + 68 52 75 .pg. focal point. which tells the tragic story behind this particular weapon.. The overall design is elegant in its simplicity. the drawing power of this photo was clearly strong enough to hold the readers’ interest. and flow. 21 Cease Fire “A gun in the home. Cease Fire’s ad is an excellent example of simplicity. Even though that text is slanted (making it more difficult to read). From the trigger.” (April 1996) It’s no surprise that this ad earned the highest scores in the study.

In this ad. 22 The Print Ad Principles . As noted earlier. and the text itself was difficult to see against the mottled photographic background. the reader’s eyes would probably go to Ryan first.cont’d Principle #1 . Now compare the Largent ad to a similar one featuring baseball great Nolan Ryan.cont’d National Rifle Association “I’m the NRA .pg.Steve Largent” ( June 1998) Adnorm Scores Noted Associated Read Most -15 -15 -64 These two ads demonstrate the difference that flow can make. tracking downward from there and away from the . the NRA ad featuring Steve Largent recorded an exceptionally low Read Most score for two reasons: the design did not direct the reader to the text in the upper right-hand corner.

one ad flows the reader to the text.Nolan Ryan” (November 1998) Adnorm Scores Noted + Associated + Read Most + 9 13 64 text in the upper left-hand corner. Ryan’s rifle. . Even though the text is printed on a photograph – which usually presents problems – it contrasts sharply with the solid dark background. 23 National Rifle Association “I’m the NRA . acts like an arrow pointing the reader back towards the text. Simply put. The 128% difference in Read Most scores between these two ads is dramatic and very likely attributable to these design variations.pg. however. and the other doesn’t.

and the sponsoring organization’s logo (with slogan and contact information) anchoring the bottom of the page. An ad like this probably won’t win any design awards. Adnorm Scores Noted + Associated + Read Most + 3 6 11 .cont’d Coalition for America’s Children “The Toughest Job in the World” (March 1997) Here’s your basic meat-and-potatoes public interest ad: eye-catching photo on top. but it should reliably flow the reader through all the elements and deliver respectable readership scores. headline directly beneath. two neat columns of text. this ad by the Coalition for America’s Children won’t steer you wrong.cont’d Principle #1 . For a basic design template. 24 The Print Ad Principles .pg.

.Print Ad Principle # 2 Make an emotional connection before attempting to convey information.

So. . so make sure you reach their hearts first. people give their attention only to those things they care about. It’s admirable to have the facts on your side.” WWF used striking photographs of pandas. “and then we’re going to talk about things that are a little more difficult.“The way we’re going to engage people is through inspiration. and truly contemplate your message.” Dorrance said. to be a purveyor of truth. And caring is a far cry from information processing. Jo Lynn Dorrance. involving both the heart and the mind – and usually in that order. and (pictured at right) penguins in its “Amazing Grace” print campaign to strike that emotional chord first. 25 Principle #2 Make an emotional connection before attempting to convey information. read. polar bears. and to occupy the moral high ground. Director of Marketing Communications for the World Wildlife Fund. Caring is an emotional and intellectual process. if you want your target audience to stop.pg. supervised a print campaign to raise awareness for WWF’s efforts to protect endangered species. Minds tend to follow hearts. In an age of information glut. but that’s not enough to make your case. Several of the people I interviewed stressed the critical importance of designing ads that proceed from an emotional connection. you have to engage their hearts first.

“the juncture where facts and feelings meet.” Polansky offered the parody headline. And who wants to hear from them? Hearts. Then Minds “The emotions are mechanisms that set the brain’s highest level goals. and journalism are coming to the same conclusion: our ability to remember and tell stories may be central to intelligence. artificial intelligence. and the quality of our relationships with others. “it doesn’t appear to care about what the reader thinks or feels. we turn ourselves into the fear-and-shame people. but if they are the only ones we use.pg. Vice President of Strategy for Public Media Center. experts from such diverse fields as anthropology.cont’d Principle #2 . love and hate. 26 The Print Ad Principles . stressed the importance of leaving room for an emotional response. Stories stick. Robert Fulford calls stories.cont’d Jonathan Polansky. How Minds Work Facts fly by. all the complex feelings that make us human – good causes have tended to paint with these same two colors over and over and over again.” We hear and tell stories so often that we rarely stop to consider what an important role they play in communication and learning.“If the ad already looks like it’s reached its own conclusion.” Polansky warned. In The Triumph of Narrative: Storytelling in the Age of Mass Culture. Polansky suggested a headline that lets the reader decide what’s fair:“Should my son be in a coma because he drank a beer on the street?” An additional note of caution: public interest advertisers have displayed a strong inclination to target just two emotions: fear and shame. self-image.” –Stephen Pinker. . In fact. Given the same subject matter.“Fascist Pigs Oppress Community!” as an extreme example of rhetoric squeezing the reader off the page. Unquestionably these are strong motivators. Despite a vast palette to choose from – joy and sorrow.

emotionally charged situations . If you want them to talk about your ad.pg. however.“As time passes and as we see more ads featuring dramatic situations.” –Roger Schank. but we can more easily remember a good story. Ads that powerfully present dramatic. Just remember that people love to hear and tell stories. This is one of the reasons why people like to tell stories. “We have difficulty remembering…abstractions. give them a story they can tell. that you have to write a book to tell a story.” Don’t assume. Stories give life to past experience. 27 Starch research confirms the power of stories.and ones that quickly and clearly convey a message to the audience – are those that people remember and bond with.” Sawyer reported. Stories make the events in memory memorable to others and ourselves. The Cease Fire ad tells a compelling story with a photo and about thirty words.“we become more convinced that the fastest path to the reader’s heart and mind is to take a lesson from the narrative arts. Tell Me a Story: Narrative and Intelligence .

or bomb destroyed this woman’s home – she needs help and she needs it now. scored very highly in terms of grabbing attention and branding Red Cross.) Its strong emotional content and implicit story telling – along with simple design and good flow – are certain keys to its success.” said Scott Leslie. “We wanted to use that insight to suggest we really need your help and we can’t wait for it either. Adnorm Scores Noted + Associated + Read Most 47 40 n. which was designed by J. (RoperASW does not calculate a Read Most score when an ad has fewer than fifty words of text. “We had just come off a couple of years of research [that said] people saw us as an organization that responded quickly. hurricane. 28 The Print Ad Principles . . Red Cross’ advertising director.” The ad.cont’d American Red Cross “Help Can’t Wait” (April 1995) A three-word headline and an emotionally charged photo tell a powerful story that everyone can relate to.cont’d Principle #2 . Walter Thompson. The ad makes the simple point that this is what Red Cross does best: providing help quickly where it is needed most. The story told in this ad was a direct outcome of audience research. It doesn’t matter if an earthquake.pg.a.

and the organization’s name. this ad follows a reliable design template: large photo to capture attention. brief explanatory text. 29 National Committee for Missing & POWs Affairs “Kuwait is Still Waiting” (August 1992) As noted in principle #1.pg. Attending to these design basics yielded predictably good Noted and Associated scores. What probably accounts for the exceptionally high Read Most score is the ad’s emotional impact. a headline playing off the photo positioned directly beneath. and contact information at the bottom.but when embodied in the person of a forlorn little girl in a jail-like setting. Now the story is personal. and we are inclined to read on. the message “Kuwait is still waiting…” has new meaning. Adnorm Scores Noted + Associated + Read Most + 16 7 73 . Kuwait is a nation about which readers may have mixed feelings. logo.

cont’d National Coalition Against domestic violence “Flowers” (April 1991) Here’s another excellent example of an emotionally powerful story evoked with few words and a single image. but emotion and storytelling are its great strengths.cont’d Principle #2 . This ad employs a different – but equally reliable – approach to flow by using the headline to capture attention and then directing readers to the photo for the emotional payoff. Once again. concise text below the photo fills out the story. (If you feel that the phone number could be bigger. 30 The Print Ad Principles .) Simple design is an asset in this ad.pg. your eyes’ last “resting place” is the phone number you can call for help. Adnorm Scores Noted + Associated + Read Most + 15 16 47 . I won’t argue with you. and when you arrive at the bottom of the ad.

.Print Ad Principle # 3 Write headlines that offer a reason to read more.

pay close attention to the headline and make sure it’s bringing readers “inside the tent. it plays the pivotal role of capturing attention and driving it deeper into the ad. In this book. you could lose most potential readers at this point. an industry classic now in its fifth edition. went on to write Tested Advertising Methods. Its creator. “They laughed when I sat down at the piano. In many ads. arouse interest. 31 Principle #3 Write headlines that offer a reason to read more. Consequently.pg. • Arouse curiosity that can be gratified by reading further. As such. David Ogilvy claims that five out of every six people who read your ad will read only the headline. John Caples.” State a benefit. Caples contends that good headlines do at least one of three things: • Appeal to the readers’ self-interest by offering a clear. tangible benefit. . • Break news that will also spur the reader to delve into the text. but when I started to play…” is one of the most famous headlines in advertising history. the headline will be the first element readers see. After you’ve considered the effect of the ad in its totality. if your headline doesn’t perform at least one of the functions Caples specifies. or break news.

If it’s a visual concept.” says Polansky. Here’s an example of the power of detail.) According to Philip Sawyer. It is visible from Mars.” says Fallon Worldwide’s Tom Lichtenheld in Cutting Edge Advertising. Most headlines work in tandem with a photograph or illustration. PMC’s Polansky recommends putting headlines in the form of a question whenever appropriate.e. Caples points out that brevity is no guarantee of effectiveness: “Long headlines that say something are more effective than short headlines that say nothing. punchy headlines (i. which also require concise appeals. National Crime Prevention Council.“If you ask a question.“Starch data indicate that short. The headline read: ‘It began 400 years before Christ. the headline is small and goes at the bottom. Squeeze This Know how your headline plays off your illustration. and the Environmental Protection Agency) likens print ads to billboards.cont’d Keep it short (but if you need more words to be genuinely intriguing. You’ve already started a dialogue. and their location on the page should be a function of this relationship. That said. 9 words or less) perform best in gaining initial reader attention and usually work most successfully in leading the eye to delve into the body copy. “If the visual is a payoff to a headline.” Whether you take the long or short road. You can touch it this spring.’ Punctuated by a small picture of the Great Wall of China.pg. It will make your argument more persuasive and your ad more interesting.“the reader is going to come up with an answer of some kind. and good print ads are dialogues.” . don’t be afraid to use them. Hey. the details in this headline made me keep reading about Royal Viking’s cruises to China.” –Luke Sullivan..” Jeff Boal of the PlowShare Group (creator of ads for World Wildlife Fund. “then theoretically you put the headline at the top and the visual below.cont’d Principle #3 . Better Headline “In headlines…say something specific and concrete.” Great Wall. Whipple. 32 The Print Ad Principles .

(as quoted in Cutting Edge Advertising) .” –Lionel Hunt. you must resolve the relationship between the headline and the photo. which is taking you forward. and proceed with your design accordingly.pg. Or it’s the other way around: a very simple picture and you’ve got an intriguing headline. and a short headline of up to 9 words. “What you don’t want to do is make the picture do what the words are doing. and the words do what the picture is doing. Ogilvy recommends using a large photo (80% of a page). • When the text is more important than the illustration. and if it’s the picture then almost certainly what you want is a very simple headline. David Ogilvy goes so far as to present a specific formula: • When the illustration carries the major responsibility of transferring information. So you’ve got to decide which is leading. Ogilvy recommends a shallow photo (25% of a page) with a headline of up to 20 words. Lowe Hunt & Partners. But you can’t have both. Just as an ad must have a focal point. 33 In Ogilvy on Advertising. determine which is the leading element.

” Sawyer reports. The descending font size within the headline.cont’d Principle #3 .” (November 1994) “Starch data suggest that readers turn away from [headlines with] too much variety in font style and size. Adnorm Scores Noted + Associated + Read Most + 46 26 47 . so the design of this ad runs contrary to reader tendencies. is purposeful in two ways: it physically draws you into the text.. 34 The Print Ad Principles .. The high Read Most score is probably a direct result of the headline’s design.cont’d Save the Children “If a Little Girl Cries. and it helps depict the story that the ad is telling.pg. however.

forcing readers to jump to the bottom of the page to find the final four words. • Third.. but not upwards to the first half of the headline. Given these deficiencies. 35 UJA Federation of New York “The most educated investment. or break news. so the reader’s eyes will probably go to the photo first. From there. they are likely to track right or down. • Second. arouse interest. it has been cut in half by the photograph. the ad is off to a poor start. Adnorm Scores Noted Associated Read Most -11 -21 -15 .. and its sub-par numbers across the board are a predictable result. the illustration is the dominant image on the page.” ( June 1998) The headline of this ad has three fundamental problems: • First.pg. it does not offer a clear benefit.

Adnorm Scores Noted + Associated + Read Most 19 2 -28 . The positive Associated score indicates a betterthan-average performance here.cont’d American Cancer Society “When my breast cancer surgery was over. The design is simple and the flow should ultimately deliver the reader to the American Cancer Society logo which stands out in the lower right-hand corner. however. The designer chose to work without a headline and offers only an enlarged line of text to pull the reader into the body copy. and the Noted score reflects this.” By coloring this line dark green.. the designer has made it less readable against the woman’s sweater. too.cont’d Principle #3 .” (October 2000) We’re off to a good start here: the woman featured in the ad is looking directly at us. If that does not grab the reader.pg.. “the first line is the most important. you have lost the reader.” says Sawyer. in the middle of the ad. “As every PR person and newspaper writer knows. The absence of a headline and the design choices for the text are the likely reasons this ad recorded a low Read Most score despite its good start. and we’re inclined to look back (more on the importance of eye contact later). 36 The Print Ad Principles . Problems arise. the ad does a good job of grabbing our attention. Consequently.

.Print Ad Principle # 4 Use pictures to attract and convince.

Paul Messaris writes.” –David Ogilvy.“Help Can’t Wait.” Sawyer reports. photographs are often a more powerful tool than words.” photos serve neither purpose. by definition. Tom Lichtenheld addresses this point in Cutting Edge Advertising. the more people look at your advertisements. as depicted in the Red Cross ad. and that confers a similarly heavy responsibility. ‘What goes on here?’ Then he reads your copy to find out. an abstraction of its subject. Photographs are proof. “…photographs come with an inherent guarantee of authenticity that is absent from words no matter how authoritative. “and very often a strong reliance on those colors alone can boost Noted scores considerably. By draining the image of color. but it possesses its own unique strength. Photos and Story Appeal “The kind of photographs which work hardest are those which arouse the reader’s curiosity. In Visual Persuasion: The Role of Images in Advertising.” reports Sawyer. but he’s not overly concerned.“they still believe that photographs don’t lie. If cost is not an issue. 37 Principle #4 Use pictures to attract and convince. the credibility of photos may be more in question. Ogilvy on Advertising Color pulls. As the initial point of interest. the image must also be presented in ways that pull the reader deeper into the ad. Harold Rudolph called this magic element ‘Story Appeal. Given the limited amount of space you have in a print ad and the limited amount of time you have with the reader. or “monochromatic. “Starch has consistently found that extremely rare is the monochromatic photograph that earns even average Noted scores.” Single-toned. “A photograph adds real information to an advertisement.’ and demonstrated that the more of it you inject into your photographs.” John Caples makes a similar point in Tested Advertising Methods when he asserts.” . for example.” Of course.” Black and white photography is not as naturally attention getting. If the headline isn’t the most prominent design element. Photographs convince. black & white explains. He glances at the photograph and says to himself. according to previous readership studies.“Even though people are savvy to retouching. A black and white photograph is.pg. in a time when doctored photos fly around the Internet and famous faces routinely end up in odd places. the photographer asks you to look beyond the subject for other things – the story of a woman’s suffering. Seeing is still believing. a photograph probably is. and monochromatic does neither.” says Lichtenheld. “Starch data indicate that readers are particularly drawn to blue and green hues. use color: color photographs possess the greatest ability to attract the human eye.

The advertiser should take advantage of this habit. a photograph will provide a solid background that can offers strong contrast for text. In some instances. make the text more difficult to read. “People are in the habit of reading the brief messages that are printed under pictures. Richard Earle offers another compelling argument:“Captions always get more readership than body copy.” writes Caples in Tested Advertising Methods.”As we have already observed in the Save the Children ad that showed only a child’s feet.” reports Sawyer.pg. which have always had captions under the illustrations. 38 The Print Ad Principles . RoperASW Given the strong attractive and storytelling power of photos.“This finding seems to resonate all the more intensely as it applies to infants and young children. “Our data strongly suggest that readers have a problem with partial shots of people in which isolated. “Starch data show that readers almost invariably respond well to babies in advertisements.” At the same time. do so with care. “This habit dates back to the reading of school textbooks. According to Sawyer. “While the presence of a baby adds interest for readers. As we have already seen. but if you choose to mingle words and pictures. If babies are a credible part of your message. use them in your advertising – they are time-tested magnets for the eyes.) Are You Looking at Me? “Starch studies clearly indicate that Noted scores are higher when models look directly at the reader than when their gaze is ‘off center’ or away from the reader.” –Philip Sawyer.” Sawyer reports.cont’d Principle #4 . “we must stress that the manner in which the baby is depicted is of primary importance to how an ad is perceived. The recommendation to use babies comes with an important caveat. or both.” . readers may be put off if they cannot see the whole child.“Words placed on photographs impair the eye’s longing for visual beauty.” Babies remain one of the most powerful eye-magnets available.cont’d Avoid placing text over photos (but consider placing captions below them. it is generally inadvisable to place text directly over an image.” Sawyer adds. be aware of opportunities to place text directly beneath a picture. however. and the results gleaned from [the public interest] analysis indicate that this finding holds for nonprofit organizations.‘chopped off ’ body parts are shown. such placements tend to obscure the photo.” In The Art of Cause Marketing.

In this design.5 million in donated ad space. penguins. Good Housekeeping.. pandas. Adnorm Scores Noted + Associated + Read Most 19 10 n. when an ad features fewer than fifty words of copy. The striking photograph. the ad clearly directs the readers’ eyes from the upper left to the lower right-hand corners of the ad. and several other magazines. The ads. suggests one small way in which this ad might be improved. and. From the headline to the penguins’ beaks to the panda logo. Ideally. however. Starch does not calculate a Read Most score. appeared in Bon Appetit. . World Wildlife Fund ran an extremely successful print campaign that generated $4. which were designed by The PlowShare Group.a. however. 39 World Wildlife Fund “Amazing Grace” (December 1999) Using photographs of polar bears. Martha Stewart’s Living.pg. a toll-free number or web address) where the interest aroused by the ad can be converted into action. in this case.g. (As mentioned earlier. eye-catching colors. and elegantly simple design all combine for a reader-friendly effect – one that is apparently confirmed by the strong Noted and Associated scores. two response mechanisms are positioned in the upper left-hand section of the ad and have probably been “left behind” by the time readers complete their trip. Relocating the telephone number and Internet address to a spot nearer the panda logo would probably help increase response. the reader’s visual journey should end at a response mechanism (e.) The principle of flow. and it’s easy to see why they earned so many free placements.

body text. In the CJ Foundation for SIDS ad.” ( June 1998) Adnorm Scores Noted Associated Read Most -18 -24 -46 These two ads demonstrate how the drawing power of babies can be maximized or compromised.pg.cont’d Save the Children “For some children. but the difference in treatment of the photo’s subject is absolutely crucial here.. as noted earlier. The Save the Children ad.. we see a pleasant.cont’d Principle #4 . headline. In her pink . response information. Both ads follow a traditional design template (stacking photo. and logo). depicts only the infant’s feet. full-color image of a baby girl lying on her back. 40 The Print Ad Principles .

pg. they comprise an important reminder: show the whole baby! . the little girl appears comfortable and content (and she even seems to be waving at us. and may even suggest a tragic end. both ads should have performed reasonably well. Seen side by side. but the scores are significantly different: by 33% in Noted. and an eye-opening 64% in Read Most. By adhering to basic rules for overall design.) The black and white feet leave the baby’s status in question. 25% in Associated. 41 CJ Foundation for SIDS “Face Up” ( January 1999) Adnorm Scores Noted + Associated + Read Most + 15 1 18 pajamas.

partial view of a face is under such heavy magnification that it is almost nightmarish. unpleasant for many to look at.” Adnorm Scores Noted Associated Read Most -19 -36 -50 . and from there the eye would track naturally downwards to the ad’s “ask” (“Get tested. or.. at the very least. and an overwhelming percentage of those who saw it didn’t bother to read most of the text.pg. this ad seems to be the definition of “too much of a good thing.cont’d American Liver Foundation “Five million. suggest that most readers didn’t remember it.” (December 1995) The photograph in this ad may very well be the design element that turned readers away.cont’d Principle #4 . 42 The Print Ad Principles .” While eye contact is generally desirable in photographs.. The scores for this ad. Sawyer points to the photograph as the likely reason: “The macro-lens effect achieved by this super close-up. The headline is well-positioned to capture attention and lead readers to the body text. however.”) and response mechanism (the toll-free number). Canary-yellow eyes staring off the page add to the disturbing look of the picture.

Print Ad Principle # 5 If you want people to read your text. make it readable. .

most easy-to-read renditions of body copy are those that tend to earn the highest readership scores. And this paragraph is justified left. which creates an even margin on the left side and a ragged margin on the right. make it readable. sans serif in page-size sheets repels readership as wax paper repels water. creates atmosphere. colors the way we want our messages interpreted.” –John Updike Legibility is priority #1 People are conditioned to reading type precisely as you see it here. “Typefaces are decoded as we read. Piquant in little amounts. THE TYPEFACE IS SANS SERIF SO THE LETTERS HAVE FEWER DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN THEM.”Good typography does not draw attention to itself nor does it stand in the way of the message. This text is printed in sentence case. SO YOU DO NOT HAVE ADDITIONAL CUES TO TELL YOU WHERE ONE SENTENCE ENDS AND ANOTHER BEGINS. BY COMPARISON.” says Jim Aitchison in his book. The typeface is serif. 43 Principle #5 If you want people to read your text.pg. They help the eye pick up the shape of a letter. AND THE PARAGRAPH IS FULLY JUSTIFIED. WHICH CREATES EVEN MARGINS ON BOTH SIDES BUT CAN LEAVE ODD SPACING BETWEEN THE WORDS. As Sawyer concludes in his report. While this may appear to be a Blinding Flash of the Obvious. they continue to set type in fonts and sizes that may be pleasing on a purely aesthetic level but lack one important quality: you can’t read the words. meaning that the letters have small additional lines and curlicues that help you recognize them. THE LETTERS ARE ALL CAPITALIZED. NOTE HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO READ THIS PARAGRAPH. “The cut of each letter will transmit dozens of signals to the brain. In their attempts to be creative and different.” . Cutting Edge Advertising.“The simplest. Typography underscores words with emotional presence. so only the first word and proper nouns begin with capital letters. And He Probably Knows a Little About This “Serifs exist for a purpose. it’s one BFO that too many ad designers ignore.

Even with careful attention to face and case. “In short. shorter is sweeter. but if it doesn’t tell the whole story… The question of short text versus long text has passionate proponents on both sides. Squeeze This. The goal is to give the reader several points of entry into the text. “[They also] get copy read that might otherwise not be read.“don’t have one heavily guarded entry point.pg.“If you want people to enter the tent. Holmes encourages designers to break up long. 44 The Print Ad Principles .” writes Caples in Tested Advertising Methods.” says Tony Cox. that can make even long text (which Starch defines as 100 words or more) easier to read: Short Paragraphs “Break your copy into as many short paragraphs as you can. heavy looking blocks of text and rearrange copy until the overall effect is pleasing to the eye.” In general. too.Chairman of Lowe Howard-Spink.cont’d Principle #5 .” says Polansky of Public Media Center. however.cont’d Layout of text can also enhance readability.in The Copywriter’s Bible.” advises Luke Sullivan in Hey. the less said the better.” Subheads “Subheads tell your story in brief form to glancers who don’t have time to read your entire advertisement. “Inside every fat ad there’s a thinner and better one trying to get out. Creative Director for BMP/DDB.” says Adrian Holmes.” Overall Appearance “Copy that looks good on the page has a knack of reading well. the text in an ad may scare off some readers if there appears to be too much of it.“Short paragraphs are less daunting.” . Whipple.There are several layout techniques. in The Copywriter’s Bible.

If the first five words of the copy aren’t. ‘May we send you $700?’ word 6 isn’t read. I think we’ve entered a frenzied era of coffee-guzzling. the best answer to the question.” In The Art of Cause Marketing.“People will read long copy.pg. you are on the op-ed page of a serious newspaper. Hey. Certainly your copy should be brief and to the point. Richard Earle explains how an ad’s placement can affect this decision:“If your environment is a glossy magazine. Squeeze This . primarily by the photograph or the headline. fax-sending channel surfers who honk the microsecond the light turns green and have the attention span of a flashcube. then a thoughtful long-copy approach may be completely appropriate. you may wish to let a startling visual carry your message. If. 45 David Ogilvy offers this rebuttal: “All of my experience says that for a great many products. Whipple.” he writes.” –Luke Sullivan.“It depends. “but they do so only when their conscience or curiosity is raised. long copy sells more than short.” Of course.“Long or short?” is probably. “But I must warn you that if you want your long copy to be read…your first paragraph should be a grabber. however.” May We Send You $700? “I don’t think people read body copy.” he writes in Ogilvy on Advertising.” Sawyer echoes this thought in his report.

cont’d Public Media Center & Media Access Project “Low Power Radio” (May 2000) The San Francisco-based Public Media Center has a penchant for the long-copy approach. The body text alone runs over 200 words. • The body copy is large. “The ad did an excellent job of converting Noters to Readers. and set in sentence case in a familiar serif text: all design choices that make it easier to read. • Background information on the issue (low-power radio) and its supporters is set off in a box and bold print beneath the coupons.” wrote Sawyer in his report.pg. and this joint effort (with the Media Access Project) is no exception. 46 The Print Ad Principles . so reading this ad requires real interest on the reader’s part.cont’d Principle #5 . left justified. Fortunately.” Adnorm Scores Noted Associated Read Most + -11 -5 7 . the ad’s creators employed several techniques to arouse interest and enhance readership: • The headline – which is the clear focal point of the ad – is a compelling and urgent call to action.“and the healthy Read Most score – which is even more impressive when one considers the amount of text in this ad – is the ultimate signifier of success for this kind of ad.

47 American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science (ACWIS) “The Idea Market” (May 1996) Like Public Media Center’s ad. the headline does not offer a compelling reason to read the copy. In the last eight lines of text. this ad presents over 200 words of body text. This lack of white space makes the text that much more imposing. Adnorm Scores Noted Associated Read Most -52 -53 -69 . each line has been fully justified to fit the contours of a cloud. the type shifts to italic and diminishes in size. This creates uneven spacing between the words.pg. but even if it did. heart-shaped bullets are used to denote the beginning of new paragraphs. As noted earlier. and neither change makes it more readable. the design choices made for the text alone should have been enough to dissuade most readers – and the low Read Most score is not surprising as a result. • Since the sculpting of the text into the shape of a cloud would not permit normal paragraph structure. but several of the design choices made run contrary to reader tendencies: • While the text is large and set in a familiar serif face.

48 The Print Ad Principles . certain sections are underlined or set in bold type to stand out. The text is sans serif and has been set in fully-justified columns. but its designers did enough things right to earn a very high Read Most score. The head line grabs your attention.pg.. but: • The ad has good flow. and the model’s gaze points you over to the copy.. making the text less daunting to absorb.cont’d Hepatitis Foundation International “She just picked up a virus. but a color-coded map of the Earth and a factoid about Hepatitis A provide breathing room between segments. it differentiates them from the rest of the text. Adnorm Scores Noted Associated Read Most + -6 -2 40 . creating enough visual variation to keep the whole column of text interesting. The Noted and Associated scores are slightly sub-par. This not only draws attention to those lines.cont’d Principle #5 . • The copy is long. • Within the text. but it would appear from the Starch research that those who stayed with the ad were drawn into the text.” (April 1998) Here’s another ad which asks you to read over 200 words of body copy.

Print Ad Principle # 6 Test before. . measure after.

dimly lit rooms of a research center and proceed directly to the places where they shop. all of the public interest advertisers made the same point: find a way to test your message with your target audience before publishing your ad. “We test the messaging. but in the long run. members of community groups.” Other groups. ‘What does this ad say to you?’ If you’re not getting the answer back that you intended. would that motivate you?’” At approximately $5.000 a session. focus groups may be viewed as an expensive luxury.“We tend to test most everything we do.” –Peggy Conlon. and hang out. you need to go back to the drawing board. ‘If we say this. there are dissenting opinions on the subject. Whether arguing for traditional focus groups or more informal “street” research. Even if you follow principles 1-5 to the letter. and Save the Children are a few of the many groups I spoke with who used focus groups to shape their print advertising. But I Don’t Have a Research Budget “You can test with people you know – relatives. . The informally captured comments. Crispin Porter + Bogusky. The American Heart Association. This may entail some extra expense. Jeff Hicks. CP+B’s research team armed a handful of teens with video cameras and sent them to malls and movie theaters to interview other kids. the Miami-based agency that developed the anti-smoking “Truth” campaign. Sometimes the headline turns out to be more confusing than clever. “We don’t test the ads themselves. We ask. measure after.” said Julie Grabarkewitz. That’s why it’s prudent to check in with your target audience before investing thousands (if not millions) in your next print campaign. If people don’t repeat back to us unaided what we intend.“and at least we know that people get the message when we show ads in focus groups. he recommends that you avoid the windowless. Ask them. were far more candid and revealing than anything the agency could have hoped to hear in a focus group. then we haven’t done our job. or the picture which you built the ad around is simply not as provocative as you thought. you may still produce an ad with a message that doesn’t connect with your target audience. American Red Cross. focus groups are “a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and quietly strangled. but most of the nonprofits interviewed agreed that they were an investment in better messaging. 49 Principle #6 Test before. like committees. Planned Parenthood. play.” If you want to talk to your target audience. friends. did precisely this. according to CP+B’s president. Of course.pg. like the American Heart Association. The Advertising Council Test an ad’s effectiveness before publication. were more interested in testing concepts. To get a better sense of teenager attitudes towards smoking.” said Scott Leslie of the Red Cross. an untested ad that performs poorly will cost you more. Luke Sullivan believes that.

Starch Readership Studies are one way to test response after publication.200 to track the performance of a single ad) may put them out of reach for many nonprofits. Another cost-effective route is to build a mechanism into your ad which will allow you to accurately track reader response to that particular placement.“and it really paid off – the response now as opposed to years ago is like night and day.Testing enables you to throw opinions overboard and get down to facts. Including ‘a public service of this publication’ can go a long way in securing donated space. Jo Lynn conducted one-on-one interviews with art directors to make sure WWF’s ads would appeal to them. it won’t find its way to the consumer. The Plowshare Group “We always take into account what we hear from art directors in magazines because if they don’t like it.” –Jeff Boal. • A coupon that includes a code identifying the publication in which the ad was placed.cont’d Pre-testing ads with a publication’s gatekeepers can increase your chances of securing space. Sample mechanisms can include: • A toll-free number with a dedicated extension (to distinguish calls generated by the ad from those generated by other postings of your phone number).” writes Caples in Tested Advertising Methods.pg. the campaign received $4. WWF’s “Amazing Grace” campaign depended entirely on donated ad space. • A website address that includes a dedicated page (again to distinguish visits generated by the ad from hits that may come from other postings of your address). “They were flattered to be asked. but their cost (as much as $1. 50 The Print Ad Principles .“the important thing is to have some method of testing. “Regardless of what method of testing you use. so it may be worth an inquiry.” As noted in principle #4. Many publishers. however.” said Dorrance. Measure response after publication. but it is incumbent upon you to take advantage of those opportunities that do. Working with her agency.cont’d Principle #6 .5 million in donations of space. but thanks to thoughtful pre-testing with art directors. The PlowShare Group.” . Because Who Doesn’t Like to Be Thanked? “It is appropriate to recognize somewhere on the ad that the space has been donated by the publication. Not every ad asks for an action which can be accurately measured.” said Jo Lynn Dorrance of World Wildlife Fund. will assume the cost of a study if an advertiser requests one.

Print Ad Principle # 7 When everyone zigs. . it’s time to zag.

like rules.They represent more than eight decades of reader interviews as well as the consensus of some of the best minds in advertising today. however.The kind of audience to whom you are appealing. Nevertheless. that when you break the rules. The cautionary note here is that you should do so purposefully.” but you’re serving a higher purpose. On page after page. The design principles articulated above did not emerge by accident. that leads to the ad’s “ask” and the sponsoring organization’s name and contact information. The Rule-Breaker’s Rationale “An idea that does not involve risk does not deserve to be an idea. Naturally.” –Oscar Wilde . however. the subject matter of the ad – these and many other factors may necessitate a bending or breaking of one or more principles. 51 Principle #7 When everyone zigs. you find a strong photo that leads to a crisp headline that leads to concise. the nature of the publication in which the ad will appear. And breaking these rules is not unlike civil disobedience: it may be against the “law. when you close the magazine. are made to be broken. and the whole ad seems to be slightly off-kilter. It features no headline and a tiny picture that you have to study to figure out what’s happening. this is the one ad you remember. One ad. Imagine flipping through a magazine where every ad (including the public interest variety) has followed the fundamental principles of good design. Just make sure. Sometimes your ad will stand out most by breaking the rules. Principles. each ad should be approached on a case-by-case basis.pg. has seemingly broken all the rules. readable body copy. you do so knowingly and with good reason. it’s time to zag. White body text is printed against a black background (a design choice which consistently draws fewer readers than black text on a white background).

Write headlines that offer a reason to read more. • Pre-testing ads with a publication’s gatekeepers can increase your chances of securing donated space. 7. make it readable. Make an emotional connection before attempting to convey information. 52 The Print Ad Principles . 3. but if it doesn’t tell the whole story… 6. • Have an unmistakable focal point. measure after. • Minds tend to follow hearts. Capture the reader’s attention like a stop sign and direct it like a road map. or break news. shorter is sweeter. • Test an ad’s effectiveness before publication. . 4. Test before. 2. Babies remain one of the most powerful eye-magnets available. Avoid placing text over photos (but consider placing captions below them). • • • • Color pulls. • Facts fly by. Seeing is still believing.pg. • Keep it short (but if you need more words to be genuinely intriguing. 5. Use pictures to attract and convince. so make sure you reach their hearts first. and monochromatic does neither. • Layout of text can also enhance readability. Stories stick. • Keep it simple. • Measure response after publication. it’s time to zag. arouse interest. • State a benefit. When everyone zigs. • Provide a clear “path” for the eye to follow from one element to another. • Legibility is priority #1. black & white explains. If you want people to read your text. don’t be afraid to use them). • In general. • Know how your headline plays off your illustration.cont’d The Print Ad Principles Summary 1.

53 Good Causes.. and most importantly. If you wear several hats in your organization (e. When you finally put the ad out into the field. If you want to remember what you’ve read here. the information must be applied. there’s a simple way: use it! Make it Yours “It can be said flatly that the mere act of listening to wise statements and sound advice does little for anyone.” –Charles Gragg. According to Garvin. you have two more steps ahead of you. Because Wisdom Can’t Be Told (as quoted in Learning in Action) . The next time you work on a print ad – whether you’re creating it from scratch or evaluating another person’s work – look at it through the filter of the seven principles. So take another look at the seven principles and ask yourself. This is where conceptual rubber meets the nonprofit road. General principles may be interesting. build in the design elements that play directly to reader tendencies and fix (or eliminate) the ones that don’t. you have completed the first step in the learning process: you have acquired new information. you start to make the principles yours. We cannot efficiently use the knowledge of others. but to become genuinely useful they must be interpreted to meet your needs.“How can I make these work for me?” In this process of interpretation. Where appropriate. Great Ads Use It or Lose It Thank you for reading this book: you’ve just taken step number one. author of Learning in Action. Finally. According to David Garvin. however. it will begin to fade from memory. if you don’t actively apply newly acquired information. it must be our own knowledge and insight we use. executive director + communications director + development director) the rules will be different for you than for the single-hatted advertising manager of a large national nonprofit.g. If you’re truly interested in remembering what you have read and making it a standard part of your creative process.pg. make sure it includes mechanisms that will allow you to measure the response.

then the attitudes of an audience on a subject they would probably prefer not to think about at all. Why Can’t We Talk About Something Nice? “A basic challenge that makes social communications so difficult but so rewarding if done successfully. was just too. the playing field is hardly level.” said Bari George. the makers of M&M’s spent $10-million changing the name of their original candy line from “Plain” to “Milk Chocolate. Virtually all of the people I spoke with in both the nonprofit and advertising communities expressed similar sentiments. well…plain).” apparently. By national advertising standards. And given fewer dollars to work with. is that the aim is to first transform the perceptions. Planned Parenthood’s Director of National Advertising. Great Ads . So while the average reader probably has no bias against your print advertising. 54 Good Causes. While they generally accepted Starch’s contention that the average newspaper or magazine reader has no inherent bias against nonprofit advertising. By using design techniques that appeal to documented reader tendencies.pg. you reduce the chances that your ad will be passed over or partly read. Because a full page ad is a terrible thing to waste. Social Work: Saatchi & Saatchi’s Cause-Related Ideas . but telling.cont’d Nobody Said it Was Going to Be Easy “I can’t think of anything harder than moving people to activism.” (The word “plain. To my mind. even that sum is conservative when it comes to establishing a new product name – but when was the last time you had $10-million to sort out a small image problem? In the battle for a share of the public’s attention. that’s an argument to pay even more attention to the seven principles. example. Last year. Consider one small.” –Ed Jones. nonprofits are being outspent by hundreds of millions (if not billions) of dollars every year. they know in their hearts it’s an uphill fight. you simply must make the most of every chance you get. your ad may not be quite as compelling as it was in the focus group. Situated between a glossy two-page spread for Victoria’s Secret and a photo of a Ford Explorer in a breathtaking Alaskan landscape.

by John Caples (Prentice Hall. taught copywriting at Columbia Business School. This updated version is Advertising 101 with numerous pointers for print advertisers. Hopkins (NTC Business Books © 1998) Originally published in 1923. 55 Good Books: An Annotated Bibliography If you’re interested in exploring this subject further. so there may be a little logrolling there. but given when it was written. I encourage you to consider some of the following books that contributed to the research for this project: Historical Context Ogilvy on Advertising.” Of course. Ogilvy deserves credit for offering more of the former. by David Ogilvy (Vintage Books © 1983) Acknowledged as an industry bible. Scientific Advertising. but for an overview of the ad industry and its unique place in American life. by James B. this book has its share of time-tested principles along with some plainly outdated advice. Chapter 7.” is filled with specific recommendations and is a good starting point for the print ad newcomer. Fifth Edition © 1997) Caples worked at BBDO. Twenty Ads That Shook the World. and wrote another industry bible that is now in its fifth edition. Twitchell (Crown Publishers © 2000) My colleague Philip Sawyer calls this “easily the best book on advertising that I have ever read. There’s not much hard advice here for the print advertising minded. Twenty Ads is a very entertaining and stimulating read. . Scientific Advertising still has much to offer. Hopkins honed his skills in direct response marketing – where you know exactly how well your appeal did – and many of the fundamentals he offers on writing headlines and copy are echoed by today’s top practitioners.pg. “Wanted: a renaissance in print advertising. that was for a back-cover blurb. by Claude C. Tested Advertising Methods.

Which Ad Pulled Best? by Phil Burton & Scott Purvis (NTC Business Books © 1996) Interesting and annoying. Social Work: Saatchi & Saatchi’s Cause-Related Ideas (-273 Publishers © 2000) A compendium of the agency’s work from around the world for such diverse public interest clients as Action for AIDS. there are many excellent pointers on layout as well. Cutting Edge Advertising.” is filled with useful nuggets. Luke Sullivan offers firsthand advice with humor. of the UK © 1995) Subtitled “How 32 of the world’s best advertising writers write their copy. Essential reading for public interest print advertisers.. by Richard Earle (NTC Business Books © 2000) Earle’s certainly got the credentials (he worked on the “Crying Indian” campaign and won over 50 industry awards). 56 Good Books: An Annotated Bibliography . sarcasm. Jay Schulberg) who offer some excellent advice. Hey. by Jim Aitchison (Prentice Hall © 1999) Aitchison analyzes over 200 print ads and brings in comments from the advertising legends (e. and the scars of someone who’s sat through more than his share of focus groups. it takes the form of a workbook which lists the relative merits of each ad without answering the question posed in its title. Despite the name.” this book is a treasure trove of good advice from men and women in the advertising trenches. The Copywriter’s Bible. Roy Grace. David Abbott.g.pg. by Luke Sullivan ( John Wiley & Sons © 1998) Named one of the top ad writers in the country by Adweek Magazine. The chapters on “Planning Your Campaign” and “Radio and Print” were most useful. Whipple. but his advice seems most attuned to big-budget advertisers. Alastair Crompton. The book opens with interviews featuring industry giants (e. Greenpeace. When the book moves into its fifty side-by-side comparisons. however. Many of the print ads are terrific and inspiring. Squeeze This. Neil French. Indra Sinha) who worked on them. Chapter 4.cont’d Contemporary Advertising The Art of Cause Marketing. New Zealand Red Cross. Like I said: annoying! . Commissioning Editor (The Designers and Art Directors Assoc.g. George Gallup..“Write When You Get Work. and UNICEF.

) . Descartes Error: Emotion. 57 Good Books: An Annotated Bibliography . and Graphic Design. Beck (Harvard Business School Press © 2001) Don’t let the subtitle fool you: this book is for anybody who’s battling for share of mind. Nevertheless. by Antonio Damasio (Avon Books © 1994) Damasio contends that emotions play a role in every decision we make. by Maud Lavin (MIT Press © 2001) If you work in the reproductive rights arena. Data Smog: Surviving the Information Glut. Chapter 9 (“A Baby and a Coat Hanger: Visual Propaganda in the U. but the book becomes a little more dated with each passing month. “Reading the Background. Politics. Otherwise. “The web will change everything. Davenport & John C. anyone who submitted really thick term papers in college already knows this. by John Seely Brown & Paul Duguid (Harvard Business School Press © 2000) Brown & Duguid wrote this book to challenge those net-heads who keep saying.”) is a must-read. by David Schenk (HarperEdge © 1997) Schenk brilliantly quantifies the impact of info-glut on our daily lives. If you still believe you’re going to win your argument on the facts alone. Reason. Clean New World: Culture. by Thomas H. (Of course.S. and the Human Brain. and Davenport & Beck have many interesting things to say about how people parcel out attention in this age of information glut. Smart advertisers make it their business to know everything about their audience.” Chapter 7.” is a sobering reminder that how you present information strongly affects how people think about it. but there’s slightly more to it than that.cont’d Related Subjects The Attention Economy: Understanding the New Currency of Business. The Social Life of Information. read this book. this book is strictly for design mavens who enjoy reading about German posters in the 1930s.pg. it remains an excellent grounding for anyone who wants to understand what a cluttered marketplace of ideas really looks like. and he’s got the science to back it up.

Visual Persuasion: The Role of Images in Advertising. is through stories. this is worthwhile reading.cont’d Related Subjects .pg. stories help us remember. but Fulford. but the theories across all media are worth understanding. Visual Explanations. by Robert Fulford (Broadway Books © 1999) Same territory as Tell Me a Story. and his book makes a case that any advertiser should consider. why slightly altering photos is a remarkably effective technique for capturing attention. Tufte (Graphics Press © 1997) One of the classics on information design from the Yale professor who is widely considered a guru on the subject. they are a central part of our lives. Nevertheless. by Roger Schank (Northwestern University Press © 1990) According to Schank. by Paul Messaris (Sage Publications © 1997) Messaris. offers scholarly observations on how photographic images can be more persuasive than words. define ourselves. have stronger friendships. participate in a community – in short. director of the Institute of Learning Sciences at Northwestern University.cont’d Tell Me a Story: Narrative & Intelligence. relies more on the anecdotal to make his case. and how visual style can actually enhance the substance of your message. . 58 Good Books: An Annotated Bibliography . a Canadian journalist. a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School. Schank contends. by Edward R. for anyone interested in learning more about the power of story. The best way to reach and teach. The scope of the book is well beyond print advertising. The Triumph of Narrative: Storytelling in the Age of Mass Culture.

this book will help you understand once and for all what readers are looking for and whether or not your ad is giving it to them. But… When it came to delivering the message. there are several easily learned techniques that can improve the chances your ad will be noticed and read.) Creating public interest print ads that work is an art. To order or download a free copy of this book. Documented through research and tested over time. Can you tell which one just by looking at them? (You can find the answer on pages 40-41. these “print ad principles” can help any nonprofit or foundation compete more effectively in an increasingly cluttered marketplace of ideas. please visit www. only one ad did its job. Based on an unprecedented 10-year study of public interest advertising. and a particularly challenging one at that. Why Bad Ads Happen to Good Causes can help you work smarter.com .Which Ad Worked? Two Ads. Two Good Causes. Whether your work involves creating print ads from scratch or reviewing finished products. Fortunately.agoodmanonline. and incorporating interviews with leading practitioners in the field.

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